Across the globe, 2016 was a year that many would rather forget. From grizzly political battles to depressing celebrity deaths, the blurb for the past year makes for a particularly depressing read. As eSports fans however, 2016 presented a number of reasons to be optimistic about the future… when it comes to the development of the eSports industry at least.
A number of traditional sports figures and heavyweight business organisations have jumped onto the eSports hype-train scene in 2016. After years of industry experts predicting a mass influx of outside interest, the floodgates appear to have opened; the investors poured into every crevice of the eSports scene.
From football clubs creating their own competitive eSports brands to former basketball legends turning their hands to eSports, 2016 may well be remembered in years to come as the start of a sporting revolution, amongst other things. With so many interesting developments taking place within a diverse set of eSports titles, it was easy to lose track of where all the money was going.
To break down all of the major movers and shakers for eSports in 2016, including some you might have missed, navigate through the summary below:
Shaquille O’Neal, Alex Rodriguez, and Jimmy Rollins become NRG team owners
Back in March, NRG eSports announced that basketball hero Shaq and baseball legends A-Rod and Jimmy Rollins had become team owners of the organisation. NRG had League of Legends and Counter Strike teams at the time.
Peter Guber and Magic Johnson acquire a controlling interest in Team Liquid
As part of aXiomatic, Golden State Warriors co-owner Peter Guber and Magic Johnson invested heavily into the Team Liquid organisation, acquiring a controlling interest of the brands eSports teams.
Ricky Lumpkin joins the management of FlipSid3 Tactics after publicly endorsing eSports
The Indianapolis Colts star added his name to the FlipSid3 management team, expressing his love for the eSports scene.
Jonas Jerebko buys Renegades
The Boston Celtics man bought the troubled Renegades organisation in August. After the League of Legends roster were removed from the LCS, Jerebko has since moved his attention to the Counter-Strike team, moving them to a gaming house in Michigan.
West Ham United enters eSports by signing its first professional FIFA player
As their gateway into the eSports scene, West Ham United signed Sean “Dragonn” Allen in May to represent the club at international FIFA competitions. Allen was given an official squad number.
VFL Wolfsburg add an additional Fifa Pro to their eSport roster
Building upon their previous signing of David “DaveBtw” Bytheway, the Bundesliga club added Benedikt “Salz0r” Saltzer to their eSports programme on a one year contract.
Clube De Remo form a partnership with Brave e-Sports
The Brazilians football club announced its partnership with Brave e-Sports in April, entering them into the BR League of Legends, CS:GO, SMITE and CrossFire scenes.
FC Schalke acquire Elements’ spot in the EU League of Legends Championship Series
The German football club were the first European football team to invest in an eSports team away from Fifa, acquring EU LCS pro team Elements’ spot in the competition, in addition to their roster and coaching staff in May.
Valencia CF enter the eSports scene
The Spanish giants entered into the eSports with their own self-formed League of Legends roster, alongside an expected FIFA representative. The team have also picked up their own Hearthstone, and Rocket League players.
Manchester City FC moves into eSports by signing a pro FIFA player
Manchester City opted to follow the lead of West Ham by signing a pro FIFA player of its own, Kieran “Kez” Brown.
Dynamo Moscow and Tornado ROX sign a partnership agreement
Dynamo Moscow became the first Russian football club to invest in eSports, entering an agreement with the Tornado ROX brand to become a listed partner on their website. ROX has teams League of Legends, World of Tanks, Overwatch, FIFA, and Street Fighter V.
Sporting Clube de Portugal sign pro FIFA player and host eSport tournament
Professional FIFA player Francisco “Quinzas” Cruz signed for the Portuguese club, who later hosted a CS:GO tournament in partnership with ChallengeMe.gg.
PSV Eindhoven become the first Dutch team to enter eSports
As the best football team in the Netherlands, PSV Eindhoven entrance into eSports made waves within the nation. The league champions announced that it would host a FIFA 17 tournament upon the game’s release in September.
AFC Ajax sign a pro FIFA player
Following the example of their league rivals and many other teams in Europe, the Amsterdam club joined the eSports scene by signing five time Dutch FIFA champion Koen Weijland.
Philadelphia 76ers acquire Apex Gaming and Dignitas brands
In an unprecedented move, the 76ers acquired both Apex Gaming, its LCS spot, as well as the Team Dignitas brand. With all the teams now playing under the Dignitas banner, the 76ers now boast teams in CS:GO, SMITE, Hearthstone, Overwatch, and Heroes of the Storm.
Paris Saint Germain FC announce their eSports department
A major entrance into the eSports scene by the Ligue 1 giants, PSG created an esports franchise with WEBEDIA, managers of the esports club Millennium. PSG eSports launched their brand with a bang, employing the expertise of League of Legends star Bora “YellowStar” Kim as their head of eSports. PSG has since announced a full roster to compete in Europe’s League of Legends Challengers Series.